Probiotic Territorial Colonization
By Casey Adams, PhD
Author of “Probiotics - Protection Against
Infection: Using Nature’s Tiny Warriors to Stem
Infection and Fight Disease”
Some of our
resident probiotics live peacefully together.
Most, however, struggle with other colonies, and
mark clearly defined territories with special
biochemical secretions. Probiotics within the
same colony usually specialize in particular
functions. Some work together to help break down
foods, and some guard and protect their
territory as they consume metabolites. To
protect against pathogens, many probiotics
produce a number of natural antibiotics XE "antibiotics"
designed to reduce the populations of
competitors. At the same time, some of their
antibiotic secretions aid the body’s immune
system by stimulating T-cell XE "T-cell" and
B-cell XE "B-cells" XE "B-cells" activity.
probiotics release antibiotic secretions called
bacteriocins that selectively reduce the growth
of other pathogens, including yeasts and
pathobiotics. In other words, their antibiotic
secretions—unlike many pharmaceutical XE
"pharmaceutical" antibiotics—can selectively
damage certain strains of pathobiotics and not
others. Many probiotics also produce lactic
acid, acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide,
lactoperoxidase XE "lactoperoxidase" ,
lipopolysaccharides XE "lipopolysaccharides" ,
and a number of other antimicrobial substances
XE "lactic acid" . Lactic acid, for example,
helps acidify the intestines XE "intestines"
and prevent harmful bacteria overgrowth.
To give an
idea of just how diligent and efficient
probiotic bacteria are in producing
antimicrobial components, a study at the
Department of Microbiology of the Abaseheb
Garware College in India (Watve et al.
2001) studied the genus Steptomyces since
the 1970s, and found that it has been producing
new antibiotic substances exponentially over the
years. They logistically graphed the count of
antimicrobial substances produced over the
years, and estimated that the genus is capable
of producing more than 100,000 different
bacteria are living organisms, they are
adaptable. This means that they will respond
to new competition with new antibiotic tools.
They will produce different types of
biochemicals, and develop different means of
also manufacture waste products. Some of these
are toxic and some of them are beneficial.
Pathobiotics manufacture substances that
increase the risk of disease by raising the
body’s toxicity XE "toxicity" level in addition
to infecting cells. Various immunological
diseases directly or indirectly stem from the
waste streams of pathobiotics. Harmful bacteria
can overload the liver XE "liver" and lymph XE
"lymph" systems with toxins XE "toxins" . The
toxins produced by bacteria are referred to as
endotoxins XE "endotoxins" —a
technical name for bacteria poop. Bacteria
defecate just as any other living organism does.
Endotoxins from pathogenic bacteria can
contribute to or directly stimulate inflammation
XE "inflammation" and irritation within the
intestines XE "intestines" , promoting irritable
bowel or colitis XE "colitis" , Crohn’s, polyps
XE "polyps" , diverticulitis XE "diverticulitis"
and/or pouchitis. In comparison, probiotic
waste is either healthy or inconsequential to
the intestines. In other words, probiotic poop
can be good for us!
scientists (Isolauri et al. 1994) gave
lactobacilli probiotics to 42 children with
acute rotavirus XE "rotavirus" diarrhea XE
"diarrhea" . They found that the probiotics
significantly reduced levels of the endotoxin
urease, XE "urease" and lessened infection
duration among the probiotic group compared to
the placebo group.
the University of Bologna in Italy (Gionchetti
et al. 2003) reported a study of
probiotic administration among patients
suffering from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative
colitis XE "colitis" XE "ulcerative colitis"
and pouchitis. The study focused on patients
that had recently undergone an ileostomy XE "ileostomy"
closure. A blend of eight lactobacilli and
bifidobacteria or a placebo was given to 40
patients. Of the 20 patients given probiotics,
only 10% experienced an acute pouchitis episode
versus 40% of the 20 patients given a placebo.
This statistically significant difference
indicates the important role that probiotic
bacteria play, and their ability to reduce
intestinal inflammatory diseases.
also quickly identify harmful bacteria or fungal
overgrowths and work directly to eradicate them.
This process may not directly involve the rest
of the immune system. Even still, the immune
system will be notified of any probiotic
offensives. The immune system will support the
process by breaking up and escorting dead
pathogens out of the body.
produce chemical substances that destroy
invading microorganisms. Probiotics make up our
body’s own antibiotic system.
Because probiotics are extremely intelligent and
want to survive, they have developed various
strategies to defend their homeland (our body).
It is a territorial issue. Invading bacteria
threaten their homes and families. Probiotics
also learn how to fight newer bacteria species
and new bacteria strategies. While static
pharmaceutical XE "pharmaceutical" antibiotics
are counteracted by smart super-bugs, probiotics
can alter their antibiotic strategies as needed.
Our continued survival illustrates their
produce antimicrobial biochemicals that manage,
damage or kill pathogenic microorganisms. In
some cases, they will simply overcrowd the
invaders with biochemistry and populations to
limit their growth. In other cases, they will
secrete chemicals into the fluid environment to
eradicate large populations. In still other
cases, they will insert specific chemicals into
the invaders, which will directly kill them.
Probiotic mechanisms are quite complex and
variegated to say the least.
In the early
20th century, Dr. Ilya Mechnikov
hypothesized that the beneficial effects of
lactobacilli arise from the lactic acid XE
"lactic acid" they excrete. Indeed, the lactic
acids produced by Lactobacillus and
Bifidobacteria species set up the ultimate
pH control in the gut to repel antagonistic
organisms. Lactic acids are not alike, however.
There are different lactic acid molecular
structures, and combinations with other
chemicals. For example, some probiotics produce
an L(+) form of lactic acid and other probiotics
may produce the D(-) from. Many probiotic
strains also produce a molecular combination
with hydrogen peroxide called lactoperoxidase XE
also produce acetic acids, formic acids,
lipopolysaccharides XE "lipopolysaccharides" ,
peptidoglycans XE "peptidoglycans" ,
superantigens XE "superantigens" , heat shock
proteins and bacterial DNA—all in precise
portions to nourish each other, inhibit
challengers and/or benefit the host.
proportion is the key. For example, some
bifidobacteria secrete a 3:2 proportion of
acetic acid to lactic acid XE "lactic acid" in
order to barricade certain pathogenic microbes.
also secrete a number of key nutrients crucial
to its host’s (our body) immune system and
metabolism, including B vitamins pantothenic
acid XE "pantothenic acid" , pyridoxine XE
"pyridoxine" , niacin XE "niacin" , folic acid
XE "folic acid" , cobalamin and biotin, XE
"biotin" and crucial antioxidants such as
vitamin K XE "vitamin K" .
also produce antimicrobial molecules called
bacteriocins. Lactobacillus plantarum XE
"Lactobacillus plantarum" produces lactolin.
Lactobacillus bulgaricus XE "Lactobacillus
bulgaricus" secretes bulgarican XE "bulgarican"
. Lactobacillus acidophilus XE "Lactobacillus
acidophilus" can produce aciophilin XE "aciophilin"
, acidolin XE "acidolin" , bacterlocin XE "bacterlocin"
and lactocidin XE "lactocidin" . These and
other antimicrobial substances equip probiotic
species with territorial mechanisms to combat
and reduce pathologies related to Shigella,
Clostridium, Escherichia and other
infective genera. Furthermore, antifungal
biochemicals from the likes of L.
acidophilus, B. bifidum XE "Bifidobacterium
bifidum" , E. faecium and others also
significantly reduce fungal outbreaks caused by
Candida albicans XE "Candida albicans" (Shahani
et al. 2005).
probiotics will specifically stimulate the
body’s own immune system to attack pathogens.
For example, scientists from Finland’s
University of Turku (Pessi et al. 2000)
gave nine atopic dermatitis XE "atopic
dermatitis" children Lactobacillus rhamnosus
XE "Lactobacillus rhamnosus" GG for four
weeks. They found that serum cytokine IL-10
levels specific to the infection increased
following probiotic consumption.
strategy, smart probiotic microorganisms work
collectively and synergistically with the other
three components of our immune system. Our
probiotic system works within the non-specific
immune system to help protect the body from
invasions. Probiotics live within the oral
cavity, the nasal cavity XE "nasal" , the
esophagus XE "esophagus" , around the gums XE
"gums" , and in pockets of our pleural cavity
(surrounding our lungs). They dwell within our
stomach, within our intestines XE "intestines" ,
within the vagina XE "vagina" and around the
rectum, and amongst other pockets of tissues.
This means that in order for pathogens to invade
our body’s bloodstream, they must first get
through legions of probiotic bacteria that
populate those entry channels—assuming healthy
probiotic colonization, of course.
available in author’s book: “Probiotics -
Protection Against Infection: Using Nature’s
Tiny Warriors to Stem Infection and Fight
complete description of probiotics, along with
groundbreaking recent clinical research
illustrating the many ways probiotics can
prevent disease, can be found in
Probiotics - Protection Against Infection: Using
Nature's Tiny Warriors To Stem Infection,
This new compendium from one of our own site
contributing authors, Dr. Casey Adams, PhD., takes
the confusion out of selecting and supplementing
with probiotics. Referencing over 500 scientific
studies and reports, and with detailed
instructions on how to make your own probiotic
foods, this book is a must for anyone seeking to
understand the power of probiotics, and improve
their immunity and vitality.
for ordering information.
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